Posts Tagged - ‘individual health insurance’

Post border

Athletes Struggle To Find a Health Insurance Plan

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Image: Studio Finch under CC 3.0

Intuitively, most marathon runners and other serious athletes would be a good bet for health insurance plan providers. They are extremely fit, making them less likely to develop chronic health conditions like diabetes. On the other hand, they are actively working towards better health.

However, there’s a catch in that model of an ideal investment: injuries. So far, health insurers have reserved the right to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and a severe injury or accident could qualify. Either the policy will cover everything except treatment related to the injury, or they will be denied a policy altogether. (The healthcare reform law looks to end this in 2014.) In addition, even minor sprains or other injuries require doctor’s and hospital visits, driving up health insurance costs.

On the bright side, many distance runners buying individual health plans tend to be on the young side, making their coverage cost less.

Post border
Post border

Individual Health Insurance Coverage Denials Rose Since 2007

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Image: Oldmaison under CC 3.0

Over the past two years (ending in 2009), four major health insurers’ rates of denying coverage to individual health insurance plan applicants rose by 50%.

A report from the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee claims that WellPoint, Aetna, UnitedHealth, and Humana purposely refused to sell coverage to over 600,000 people with pre-existing conditions. Up to 425 health conditions could disqualify a person from coverage under one insurer, and some would not conduct further internal review before denying coverage.

On the one hand, the insurers may have seen the writing on the wall when President Obama was elected, and wanted to maximize their profits as much as possible before regulations would limit their ability to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions.

Post border
Post border

Is Your Health Insurance Plan Being Dropped?

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Image: TheAlias under CC 3.0

If you’re insured through Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield or MVP Health Care, you may be caught in the middle of their shrinking their product lines. Like any business, they want to eliminate unpopular products–but is this an end run around a new New York health insurance law that forbids insurers from dropping entire products as a sneaky way of canceling the coverage of people with serious pre-existing conditions and high medical claims?

The insurers defend their actions as normal business practice, adding that a relatively small percentage of customers use the plans slated to be eliminated. Just 605 policyholders will be affected, most of them either group health insurance plans based on a company’s claim history or community-rated individual health insurance priced with a large pool. Those whose health insurance plan will be discontinued will be offered an alternative, though it remains to be seen if the terms are as appealing.

Excellus plans slated to be canceled will expire on January 1st, while MVP plans (which have rolling enrollment schedules) will be discontinued on October 1st or November 1st, depending on the product. The state’s Ian’s Law will take effect early next year.

Post border
Post border

Rate Hikes for Health Insurance Plans Requested in North Carolina

Thursday, August 19th, 2010
health insurance plans

In North Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield has asked to increase the monthly premiums of its health insurance plans by an average of 7 percent.

However, the rate hikes aren’t across the board. Some of the 300,000 individual health insurance customers in the state may actually end up saving money through cheaper rates, while a handful of others will experience severe premium jumps of 40 or 50 percent.

The insurer blames rising medical costs for the increase, and says that it would have been even higher without the limitations imposed by healthcare reform. It remains to be seen if the state will approve their proposal.

Post border
Post border

Utah Individual Health Insurance Rates Go Up

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Image: debaird under CC 3.0

Similar to those in other states, Utah health insurance companies are raising their premiums. They blame the Obama administration’s healthcare reform law for forcing them to prepare for decreased profits later.

Although state law allows insurers to charge as much as they believe the market will bear, some consumer advocates are worried that filings for rate increases are considered proprietary business information and kept secret. Therefore, few health insurance buyers know what they’re getting into. Most rate changes aren’t known of unless a policyholder speaks out and complains to the media, as they did in this case.

The federal government is looking to states to strengthen their enforcement and prevent “rate creep”, which makes Democrats look bad in the mid-term election season. Humana has raised Utah individual health insurance rates by 29%, while Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield has increased some Medicare Advantage premiums by 48%.

Post border
Post border

Healthcare Reform Complicates Tax Reporting

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

As most know, the healthcare reform law includes an affordable individual health insurance mandate, intended to bring more people into the pool and make health care less expensive for all.

According to the provision, the IRS is responsible for enforcement of the medical insurance mandate. Non-exempt individuals or employers who violate it will charged penalties on their tax returns. However, there are doubts that the Internal Revenue Service is up to the task.

The requirement also creates more complications for business and nonprofit accountants when filing tax returns. In an attempt to reduce underreporting of income (which would reduce federal funding for medical insurance reform), they will now be responsible with keeping records of the 1099 forms they will have to have for all transactions over $6,000, as of 2012.

Post border
Post border

Health Insurance Company Harvard Pilgrim Agrees To Lower Rates

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Image: Guerilla Billboards

Regulators have been facing off with health insurance companies over proposed premium increases that the former consider excessive, and the latter think are necessary to continue doing business.

Apparently, compromise is possible. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care agreed to a settlement with the state of Massachusetts that limits their individual and small group health insurance rate increases. The decrease is insignificant: their initial requests ranged from 8% to 12%, while the new deal has increases of 7% to 11%.

Since earlier caps on premiums set by the state were rejected on appeal, the insurer could’ve kept fighting. However, they chose to move on instead–although they will still lose money under the agreement. Thankfully for consumers, Harvard Pilgrim (the second-largest insurance provider in the state) also agreed not to retroactively bill policyholders since April for the higher rates.

Post border
Post border

Virginia Health Insurance Company Abandons Patients

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Individuals in one state now have one less option for health care. UniCare has decided to pull out of the Virginia health insurance market, due to competitive pressure from larger insurers.

Some of their nearly 3,000 patients are eligible to switch to Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, but others don’t live in Anthem’s coverage area. They will need to search for new health insurance coverage by January 1st, when UniCare’s plans will expire.

Post border
Post border

Will Healthcare Reform Help Part-Time Employees?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Image: The Consumerist under CC 3.0

Many supporters of healthcare reform have pointed to the benefits that it can bring to part-time workers. In most cases, companies do not offer health coverage to employees who work under a certain number of hours per week. Some businesses even intentionally schedule employees just under the threshold, in order to deny them health care.

During the recession, many people have been juggling multiple part-time jobs. Although they end up working full-time hours or longer, they are eligible for health benefits from none of them.

Affordable individual health insurance is the solution in this case, but it may not be available to everyone. The exchange markets that the law establishes in 2014 are hoped to help in this regard.

Post border
Post border

Math Errors Torpedo California Health Insurance Rate Increases

Friday, June 25th, 2010

The state of California has been a battleground for health insurers recently. First, WellPoint was heavily criticized for proposed small group and individual health insurance increases of over 30%. The highest premium jumps were later withdrawn after the insurance commissioner found mathematical errors. (Smaller increases were eventually approved.)

Now, it looks like history is repeating itself. Aetna had asked for increases that averaged nearly 20% for its California health insurance customers. It has withdrawn its request upon discovering a “human error” in its calculations.

Post border